Written by Karissa Alcox, a public librarian in southwestern Ontario, Canada, the blog is an excellent resource for programming and display ideas. It's hard to leave university behind—where there are countless opportunities to meet people—and join the working world. While many are finding each other on Meetup. I'll admit it—this was a risky program! The idea of "speed dating" is a scary one to most people, and it can seem very out of place at a library.
However, this isn't normal speed dating. It's Friend Speed Dating. By the end I had 29 attendees in their 20s and 30s at the program! It was such an amazing experience—many attendees were extremely grateful and prompted me to run the same type of program on a weekly basis.
Most swapped numbers with their new friends and many were already discussing future hangouts. It was a dream! The program was supposed to run from 2: Here's how I did it! Room Set Up I set up the room with 2 long rows of rectangular tables, with 9 chairs on either side to create seating for up to 36 attendees participants were matched with whoever sat across from them.
Little origami boxes filled with fun icebreaking questions which is the worst sport? Bowls of pink and white mints on the tables Projector at the front of the room with a 2-minute timer video Name tag stickers and Sharpies by the door Coffee and tea at the side Card-making materials on tables at the back Arrows at each spot indicating where each participant would move next after the 2-minute round A gold star at one spot to mark which participant would not move at all this is to ensure that everyone matches with everyone.
Timeline everyone trickles in, hangs up their coats, and fills out a name tag nervous energy fills the room, everyone is chatting and shaking hands coffee and tea 2: In regular speed dating the men sit on one side of the table and never move, while the women shift over one seat each time.
But in that scenario, each person only matches with half of the attendees. I needed everyone to match with each other—regardless of gender! The way to get around this problem is to have one person sit in the same seat for the entire process, while everyone else shifts one seat over and ropes around the tables.
That's why arrows are necessary: Having an Odd Number of Attendees: You can prepare for an odd number in three ways: I decided option c would be the least awkward and identified the trio spots by placing little stars at the seat.
Everyone still moved over one seat each round like usual, but they occasionally found themselves in a trio instead of one-on-one. People showing up late: It's going to happen—and it's okay! Have a name tag ready to hand them, and give a quick overview of how it works. They can wait until the next round and jump in. You might have to shuffle the arrows around a bit to make it work, or add a trio station. Thirty adults having exciting, nervous, get-to-know-you conversations is LOUD.
For this reason I would advise leaving some room between the tables. I tried to keep them close together because I wanted the switching between rounds to be as easy as possible.
It would've been better to leave some space. After the Matching is Over Create some casual hangout time! I set up a card making station with dollar store supplies: I had planned to play Telephone Pictionary or Mind Readers instructions on this post after the matches, in case some people didn't want to make Valentines cards.
But after an hour of matches, everyone naturally broke off into smaller groups and started new conversations! I decided that was way better than a game. All In All This may have been my favourite program ever! My goal was achieved: It was a risky idea but I'm so glad the library went for it.
Downloadable Resource Friend Speed Dating Ice Breakers —I cut these out and packed them lovingly into origami boxes to ease some tension. Feel free to use them at your events!
Find more great programming and display ideas from Karissa Alcox on her blog Karissa in the Library.